I was drawn to chapter 8 in The New Digital Storytelling because I wanted to find out more about the concept of the networked book. Alexander states that the networked book will “actively embrace networking” through one of two approaches. First the networked book will strive to link to other media that support the narrative and will seek to be linked from other sources. Secondly, and for me the more engaging process, are networked books that are characterized by the digital interaction between creator and audience. The idea of a networked book fits very nicely with how my perspective of digital stories has developed. Before I would have focused on digital tools as the definition for digital storytelling, but as networked books illiterate, the digital story is more about reaching and embracing a specific audience though digital communication.
This communication can be in the form of real time commentary and discussion by the audience or communication that leads to shape the developments in the narrative. Real time commentary plays out in the comment section of networked books where people share points of views about the creative work and debate points from the narrative. These discussions become part of the narrative itself because the discussions not only because they are attached to the piece in the comment sections but because as the audience reads or participates in the discussion their perspective and understanding of the creative work will alter and their overall experience will evolve. The interactive nature of networked books also means there is an opportunity for direct communication between abundance and creator. I have experienced this phenomenon in my studies this semester, in the critiques of digital comics I have done I have tried to mention the author. This has been a nerve-racking experience because I am fearful what they will think of my opinions, but despite my concerns I have gotten one like and one retweet. This contact felt awesome and has given me a new connections to each of those digital stories. The next level of this interaction is to not only acknowledge the input from the audience but for the creators to further develop the narrative based off communication from the audience.
I while looking for digital comics to critique this semester I came across a webcomic that is attempting to create a networked book through audience participation. In Dice With the Universe viewers are asked to roll a die and post their results in the comment section. The comic is interesting and the concept has far reaching possibilities, I do think that the quick turnaround – between the end of a strip and the update with a new strip – is too short and it limits the directions this webcomic can go. I believe the stories could be more robust by implementing two ideas. First give more time between episodes, so that audience ideas can be fleshed out more and fit more seamlessly in the narritive. Second invite more audience participation and elicit more detailed suggestions for plot lines or even character dialogue.